Many people use propane heaters to keep warm in winter. They have a variety of uses outdoors, in large draughty buildings and in the home, especially during a power outage. However, there are concerns about safety when using heaters around the house.
Some heaters are safe for use indoors, but you have to consider whether your unit is the right one for the job. As with any heater that burns fuel, you need to pay attention to safety advice provided by the manufacturer.
The silent killer
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, clear gas that causes dizziness, nausea, and headaches. The gas is a by-product of the burning of oil, gas, wood, and coal. It builds up in enclosed spaces and can kill with little warning.
As carbon monoxide is a natural product of burning natural fuel, any fuel-burning heater, fire or stove will emit carbon monoxide. To ensure propane heaters are safe to use around your home, special safety measures are added to the heater.
The difference between indoor and outdoor use
Propane heaters come in all shapes and sizes, but the main characteristic you should pay attention to is whether is it suitable for outdoor or indoor use.
Indoor heaters are fitted with an oxygen depletion sensor that will switch the heater off if it becomes unsafe to use due to lack of ventilation. Outdoor heaters don’t have this safety feature as it’s assumed there will be plenty of ventilation from the environment.
Use it as per the manufacturer’s instructions
Many people will use an outdoor heater in a garage, which is fine as long as the garage door is open and there is plenty of ventilation. Close the garage door though, and you are likely to have a buildup of carbon monoxide.
Why take the risk?
Check the manufacturer’s safety advice about the use of the heater before you switch it on. Only use special indoor heaters around your home – it is not safe to use outdoor heaters indoors, and you should NEVER take the risk.
You should pay particular attention if you use your propane heater when camping. They’re great to sit around when you’re in the open air but never keep a propane heater inside your tent.
Don’t leave your propane heater unattended
Any fuel-burning appliance is a fire risk. You should never fall asleep with a propane heater on nor leave it unattended. If it were to fall over or malfunction, you could return to a major fire.
Keep safe when using propane heaters
Many people use propane heaters to warm up spaces that don’t have a power supply, usually garages or sheds. But you should pay particular attention to safety when you use them.
Even a garage or shed can be considered ‘indoors’ if they aren’t well ventilated. Always use an indoor heater if you are in a space that can ever be considered ‘enclosed.’
Indoor heaters have been fitted with an oxygen depletion sensor, and this sensor is your defense against carbon monoxide buildup, which could be the difference between life and death.